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Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Member Launches State Senate Bid with Major Support

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By Jason Islas
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Editor's note: an earlier version of this article stated that Ben Allen was an alumn of UCLA. He is a graduate of UC Berkley law school.

An earlier version of this article stated that Sandra Fluke had originally announced a bid for Congress. She had filed for the Democratic Party's endorsement for Congress but had not formally announced a bid. This article has been updated to reflect that information.

February 10, 2014 -- Ben Allen, a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board, announced Saturday that he would run for State Senate with the backing of two major Democratic leaders.

Allen kicked off his campaign to represent State Senate District 26, which includes Santa Monica, West Hollywood and West Los Angeles, while announcing that he had the backing of two long-time Los Angeles-area Democrats: County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and State Senator Fran Pavley.

The District is currently represented by State Senator Ted Lieu, who is leaving his post to make a bid for the seat that long-time Congressman Henry Waxman will leave at the end of this year.

Allen, who was the top vote-getter when he was first elected to the School Board in 2008, said, “I am honored and grateful to have the support of two leaders that have set the gold standard for public service in Southern California.”

Saturday's announcement ended speculation by local political observers that Allen, a lifetime resident of Santa Monica, would run for a City Council seat in November.

The endorsements from Yaroslavsky and Pavley put Allen, an adjunct professor of law at UCLA and an attorney with the law firm of Richardson & Patel LLP, in a strong position as he kicks off his bid.

"I've known and worked with Ben for years and supporting him to represent the District was an easy decision," said Yaroslavsky.

"Ben has devoted himself to the community and has the experience to represent us in the Senate. He is a leader of integrity, intelligence, and compassion," he said. "He has my full support."

Pavley echoed Yaroslavsky's sentiments.

"Ben is exactly what we need in the State Senate, a smart and pragmatic problem solver," she said.

"His passion for education, demonstrated by his years of service on a school board and in his teaching at UCLA School of Law, will be a valuable asset for our legislature," according to Pavley.

The seven-member School Board on which Allen sits is in charge of allocating the School District's $120 million annual budget and, during hard financial times, must make tough choices, Allen said.

“That's the hard work of government,” he said. The School Board doesn't “have the luxury of deficit spending.”

Allen is one of four candidates seeking the California Democratic Party nomination for the seat.

Also in the running is for State legislator Betsy Butler, who was defeated by former Santa Monica mayor Richard Bloom in the race to represent Assembly District 50 in 2012.

Vito Imbasciani, a surgeon for the California Army National Guard, announced last week that he would run for the seat.

Activist Sandra Fluke is also seeking the Party's nomination. Fluke, a Pennsylvania native, moved to California after she graduated from Georgetown University's law school in 2012.

Originally, Fluke had sought the Democratic Party's nomination for Waxman's seat but announced that she would run for State Senate last week.

While it may be a crowded field, Allen is ready for the competition.

“This is my home and I look forward to a spirited campaign to represent it," Allen said.

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